Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Randy Hillier stokes anti-gay resentment while launching Conservative leadership bid...

You may never have heard of Randy Hillier, a country bumpkin who barely won a seat in the Ontario legislature in 2007 who announced yesterday he's running to replace outgoing Progressive Conservative leader John Tory.

I had heard that one of the reasons Tory wanted to stay on was to prevent a leadership race that would give Hillier a soapbox to spout his extreme bullshit. Hillier believes there should probably be no government, but if there has to be a little government, it should only worry itself with protecting the rights of white, heterosexual, rural libertarians like him at the expense of everyone else.

Take a look at some of his policy planks released yesterday on his website: Hillier wants health care professionals to pick and choose without penalty which public health services they'll provide based on religious prejudices, as well as allow marriage commissioners, whose salaries are paid for by all Ontarians (including gays and lesbians), to refuse services to same sex couples, despite the fact that equal marriage is now legal. He also wants to abolish the Ontario Human Rights Commission, claiming it only looks at issues through the narrow prism of "race and gender" and has an "inherent bias against freedom and towards entrenching the special interests of certain groups based upon its own limited view point that everyone is a victim."

Not everyone is a victim, argues Randy. Only white, heterosexual, male libertarians like him! Hillier speaks of 'Freedom, Justice & Democracy'. If he were honest, he'd really use the slogan, 'Freedom, Justice & Democracy for White, Heterosexual, Rural Libertarians, and hell for the rest!'

Hillier's campaign manager is Tristan Emmanuel, a former Presbyterian preacher who said he once ran for public office as part of the Family Coalition Party of Canada.

It's not just the gays that Randy is after; he also wants to make sure French services are silenced in this province too.

When I have more time, I'll dissect more of Hillier's dubious claims and proposals. Next to Hillier, Tim Hudak looks positively moderate, and that's saying something. Oooh, this is going to be a very scary leadership race.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Alberta plans to finally enshrine 'sexual orientation' protections in law...

Eleven years after the Supreme Court of Canada "read in" protections for gays and lesbians into Alberta's human rights law, the government of Alberta is finally proposing to make those protections explicit in the letter of the law.

You may recall the case of Delwin Vriend who was fired from his job at a Christian college in Alberta in the 1990s. Vriend was unable to seek justice for this discrimination because, at the time, the Alberta government had refused to provide anti-discrimination protections to the LGBT community. Vriend took the case all the way to Canada's Supreme Court where, in 1998, the court ruled that Alberta had erred in not providing such protections based on 'sexual orientation.' The court "read in" those protections, even though the wording of the legislation remained the same.

Now Alberta's Culture Minister Lindsay Blackett says he wants to include sexual orientation in Alberta’s human-rights law, possibly as early as this spring. It's nice that Alberta is finally joining the modern era, at least by Canadian standards (by world standards, Alberta is practically "progressive.")

Of course, as the Man giveth, he also taketh away. While providing explicit protections for gays and lesbians in Alberta's human rights law (largely a symbolic move), the province also plans to strip Alberta's Human Rights Commission of its ability to fight hate propaganda. There is nothing symbolic about this latter move: it's a direct assault on the rights of Alberta's citizens to live free from fear of the promotion of violence and hate-based attack.

This move is likely in reaction to the recent cases involving Ezra Levant and others. While those "free speech" advocates have been largely successful in arguing that much can be improved in terms of due process with regard to human rights commissions, they haven't convinced many, myself included, that the answer is to strip citizens of all right to pursue hate speech complaints. It's like using a sledgehammer to solve a problem that a fly swatter could fix.

Many conservatives have pointed to the case of Stephen Boissoin as an example of the Alberta Human Rights Commission going too far. Of course, many have played down the visceral hatred that Boissoin promoted in his 2002 letters to the Red Deer Advocate in which, using war-like language, he basically compared gay activists to dangerous vermin against whom any action readers deemed necessary should be taken to save children. The Calgary Herald recently described Boissoin's arguments simply as "a series of pro-traditional marriage-values letters." So the Calgary Herald seems to believe that in order to argue in favour of traditional marriage, you have to demand possible violence against all gays and lesbians? That's scary.

The problem here isn't that the "free speechers" want to clean up how human rights commissions work; they reallly want to shut them down altogether.

Individual citizens should have protections against hate propaganda and should be able to initiate complaints on their own, not have to rely on police and Attorneys-General to do so. I'm all for due and fair process, but I'm definitely against letting our guard down in the fight against real hatred.

No one should have the right to live free from "feeling offended," as the "free speechers" have erroneously argued is our goal. What we want and need is to be able to live in a society in which hate mongers are punished when they advocate genocide or promote violence against any group.

A little Sunday fun: Ashton Kutcher Gets Waxed...Ouch!

Enough talk about hate crimes, human rights and religion. It's time for a little Sunday fun and who better to provide it than 31-year-old actor/former model Ashton Kutcher, who produced this video detailing his recent waxing. Kutcher had to remove various chest hair recently so he could resemble his smooth stunt double on a new action movie. For more on the European shoot, click here.

For those who love body hair, my apologies. Personally, my feelings on the subject can be summed up simply: "Less is more."

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Earth Day message from Jim Prentice: Unplug cell phone chargers!

Canadians should unplug their cell phone and other electronic chargers when not in use, said federal Environment Minister Jim Prentice today. Prentice told the CBC's Don Newman on Newsworld Friday afternoon that leaving such chargers plugged in saps constant energy from the country's electrical system. From now on, my charger is out of the wall when not in use...thanks, Jim. ;-)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gritgirl strikes again: Shoot Canada Geese and Feed Them to the Poor?

I came across this amusing little ad on Youtube. This refers to the recent suggestion by Conservative Senator Nancy Ruth (who's also an out lesbian) that Canada geese be used to feed the poor. This is a very just video response from the infamous Gritgirl...

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Ugandan propaganda horrifies...

I came across this story on a Ugandan "news" website today by accident. Needless to say, I was horrified by the ignorant display of yellow journalism. The article allegedly chronicles a born-again Christian who claims to have been "cured" of his homosexuality, who now says his fellow gays are "recruiting" children in schools. This article has every single negative stereotype anyone could possibly make up. Of course, it's about a fundamentalist Christian spouting more lies to promote a truly hateful agenda again.

As people who understand the truth know, homosexuals don't recruit kids in schools. It's the heterosexuals who do (remember senior prom?) There are too many young gay kids who need to be protected and allowed the chance to live happily on all continents, including Africa! Shame on this man and the movement that supports and promotes the lie he's leading.

It's amazing how far we've come in some parts of the world, but not in others...


Thanks to Bruce for illuminating on another aspect of this Christian extremist invasion of Uganda and parts of Africa...

What do 'Dr. Manhattan' and Paul Rudd have in common?

I saw the new feature film Watchmen the other night. Not being too familiar with the original graphic novel, I went in with an open mind and was mildly entertained (although the running time was about a half hour too long.) Overall, it was decent, but not as entertaining as The Dark Knight last year.

I'll admit that media reports about the character Dr. Manhattan (pictured above) intrigued me, particularly mentions of his frequent full frontal nudity. (The character was played in close-up by actor Billy Crudup, but his full-body shots were essentially computer-generated.) Coming from the same director, Zack Snyder, who gave us the highly homoerotic (some would say homophobic) 300 a couple years ago, I began to connect the dots.

Hollywood superhero movies traditionally objectify women, either in tight leather outfits or sometimes clothes-free (and there was some female nudity in Watchmen for sure). But for a film like Watchmen, opening on thousands of screens across North America, to show so much male frontal imagery, albeit computer generated, is got to be a cultural breakthrough. Deliberate or not, director Snyder has managed to inject an incredible amount of male beauty/homoeroticism into mainstream culture with his last two efforts. Click here to read more.

I've often thought that the dearth of male nudity in mainstream films helped to bolster a culture in North America where most straight men are generally uncomfortable with their own bodies, and definitely uncomfortable with other men's. On the other hand, the bountiful female nudity on display in mainstream culture has had a positive effect on most straight women. We've had to listen to such crud as, "the female form is simply more pleasing to the eye than the male" and "even objective commentators will agree that there is nothing beautiful about the male penis." All were arguments to maintain the sexist status quo in mainstream culture, in which women were frequently objectified and men had all the power.

Such times may indeed be over if Zack Snyder or Paul Rudd (pictured below) have anything to do about it.

Rudd's new film I Love You, Man is the latest in new comedies in which straight male characters get to explore their sweeter, more "gay" sides with possible "bromances." I definitely like this trend. Paul Rudd has been making a habit lately of exploring homoeroticism through comedy. In truth, he's probably just going for the laugh, but he's done it in a way that isn't insulting to gays (at least not in my opinion.)

Rudd recently told Entertainment Weekly: "I always thought I'd be a really good gay guy. I love American Idol. I watch Antiques Roadshow like crazy. Guys like Oscar Wilde, Stephen Fry, Elton John - they're all very bright, with a razor-sharp wit. David Sedaris - who's funnier than David Sedaris? The Saturday Night Live that I hosted was such a gay-heavy show. But it didn't even cross my mind until after. The family that kept kissing each other - I didn't even think of that as being gay... I remember doing interviews for The Object of My Affection, and people would say, 'What was it like to kiss a guy?' Like it was such a shocking thing. I said, How many times does anyone ask, 'You had to shoot somebody. Was that weird?' I love gay guys. I feel pretty gay. I'm certainly not the most macho guy in the room."

For more on Paul Rudd's flirtation with homosexuality, check this out.

The cultural significance of all this is obvious to me: these stories and images are contributing to the dismantling of long-standing sexism and homophobia in the mainstream culture by giving straight guys permission to look at a completely nude Adonis of a man and not feel uncomfortable about it. These filmmakers/artists are liberalizing what it means to be a straight man today. Maybe I'm optimistic, but compared to where we've come from, I do consider this progress.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

I want to believe in God, just not their God...

I do want to believe in a higher power. I was raised Catholic and, although I've left that organized faith behind, much of (what I perceive to be) the loving message of Christ still informs my own life.

I do think that a healthy spirituality is essential, at least for me. But I also believe that all organized religion is inevitably corrupt and fallible. People (predominantly men) who seek power in such religious institutions are never to be trusted. Like all things touched by humans, organized religions can never be counted on to be perfect.

So I firmly believe that every person should decide for themselves what they believe and why. But no one should pretend that their faith is infallible and beyond question. You can believe something one day, but then after experiencing more of life you might find you believe quite the opposite. Personal faith should allow for such experience and education. In the end, every human is subjective.

The problem with organized religion is it shuts down individual thought and contemplation. It presents people desperate for answers with an entire menu of "This is what you believe so stop thinking about it and just believe!"

For me, there is too much about the world that is beautiful to believe it all simply came about through random coincidence. I may be a panentheist, but I need to do more research first before I put any label on my beliefs. I do believe that if there is a God, She lives and breathes through every one of us, we are a part of Him at all times. When we die, we unite with God completely. Do I have proof of this? Of course not, it's merely what I choose to believe at this moment. I could change my beliefs next year should I discover new information.

This week's kerfuffle over federal Science Minister Gary Goodyear's initial reluctance to confirm his belief in evolution is a tempest in a teapot. It's true that some commentators will use this to, once again, slam the Harper Conservatives for being too Creationist-heavy. The Tories will deserve such criticism because they aren't a diverse bunch. While most Canadians hold moderate, if any faith, the vast majority of Harper's caucus is still mostly made up of the same Reform Party-type fundamentalists who turned off so many Canadians in the 1990s (and still do today.)

There is nothing wrong with personal faith. It is healthy. But no one can ever forget that faith is fallible and should be amenable to change. But too often the conservative fundamentalists that David Asper defends (at least this year) are unwilling to show such intelligence with regard to religion. Too often they are willing, if they get the power, to abuse others who don't agree with them. Too often they are willing to blur the lines between church and state and implement their own fallible religion into public policy. Fearing such people in higher office is perfectly legitimate, Mr. Asper.

For a great read on this subject, check out John Moore's take in the National Post.

Mea culpa on Dalton and Andrea...

I want to take back some recent criticisms of Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty, as well as modify some of my praise for newly elected NDP leader Andrea Horwath.

On Horwath, my comments were quite fair, but perhaps too generous. Obviously she has yet to prove herself as a leader, and while she has much promise, she could easily turn out to be as ineffectual as Howard Hampton if she doesn't come up with a compelling narrative that speaks to the hearts and minds of average Ontarians at this crucial time. Her oft-misquoted declaration, "We won't adjust. We refuse to adjust," will need to be explained further before her opponents and commentators toss her into the dust bin of irrelevance. Perhaps a further explanation that goes like this: "All of us need to adjust to the changes in our lives and in the economy that we can't control. But we shouldn't have to adjust our core values that guide us forward," or something like that. Whether or not Horwath has the capacity to utter such a meaningful statement remains to be seen.

On McGuinty, I still do admire him a great deal, despite my criticisms over his handling of the 2007 referendum. He's a tough cookie, focussed, extremely hard-working, willing to make tough, unpopular decisions that are necessary for the future welfare of Ontarians (the 2004 health premium.) While some leaders fail to overcome or even understand their deficiencies (Stephane Dion, John Tory), Dalton came back from his 1999 drubbing to win two consecutive majorities. Not a bad feat for someone first deemed "not up to the job."

Jim Coyle's column yesterday nicely sized up Dalton's strengths and weaknesses: "The problem is compounded by the fact the premier is no longer playing to his strength. He's decided, he tells audiences, that it's no longer time for mere management, but for boldness and vision. Yet it is management – with all the careful, cautious, incremental order implied – that was entirely suited to his personality. Not even his biggest boosters would have graded him highly on the scales of vision, boldness or capacity to inspire...

...Part of the reason the premier is not connecting is that he's not a natural communicator. Granted, he's gone farther through persistence and hard work in this area than anyone thought possible. But eloquence and empathy are not his strong suits...To be fair, the premier's reach for the epic is understandable. But he hasn't nailed it yet. And a good start would be to speak in his own voice from his own experience."

That pretty much sums up Dalton and his challenges at this moment. He may indeed rise to the occasion and continue to provide the steady leadership that Ontario needs to get out of this recession. In truth, Andrea Horwath will never be a realistic option for governing Ontario, not unless she starts showing more Rae-like qualities and less of Hampton.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Obama signs U.N. declaration; more backlash against Cryer appointment...

The Obama administration will endorse a United Nations declaration calling for the worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality. This corrects yet another bad move by former President George W. Bush, who refused to sign in December, fearing it might make American bigots who love to hate queers (who were a substantial part of his base, let's not forget) look bad.

As Queerty points out, the declaration is non-binding and mostly symbolic. But it's a good gesture nonetheless in the international fight against anti-gay bigotry.

On another note, there has been some decent pushback against Immigration Minister Jason Kenney's appointment of Doug Cryer to Canada's refugee board. Many are questioning how someone who is so opposed to homosexuality could give gays trying to escape persecution a fair hearing. I don't trust Cryer to be fair. This appointment fails the smell test and will be seen by many as yet another indication that the Harper-crites can't be trusted to protect equality rights.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kenney appoints anti-gay evangelical to Canada's refugee board...

A longtime Conservative who opposes same-sex marriage has been appointed by Immigration Minister Jason Kenney to Canada's tribunal that decides whether gays get refugee status in Canada. Doug Cryer, a former director of public policy for the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada, has also publicly defended the right of churches to denounce homosexuality.

I wonder if Cryer agrees with the Minister who appointed him that gay Iranians (and others who live in viciously anti-gay countries) should be able to escape to Canada as refugees. This kind of appointment is alarming and certainly denotes mixed signals from Mr. Kenney. I wonder if the Minister's talk about gay Iranians was just that.

Friday, March 13, 2009

South African gangs use rape to "cure" lesbians

There are so many evil aspects to this disturbing story, it's difficult to list them: rape, violence against women, misogyny, sexism, lesbophobia, homophobia, gang violence, machismo gone mad...

It disturbs me to no end to think there are groups of despicable men - bolstered by odiously macho cultures and attitudes - going around South Africa or anyplace who believe this lie and act on it. I post it here to remind all of us how truly demented and terrible some men can often be. In some circles of the world, this kind of violent thinking is sadly "mainstream."

Enough is enough!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Andrea Horwath will revitalize the Ontario NDP...

It's been a great week in Ontario politics. Normally a snooze, we not only witnessed the dramatic and heartbreaking demise of a decent but inept PC leader in John Tory, but also the meteoric rise of Hamilton's Andrea Horwath (pictured) as leader of the NDP yesterday.

The latter is great news as the feisty, energetic, telegenic Horwath will hopefully do something that Howard Hampton was never able to do: actually connect with a new generation of progressives who make up a slight majority of the province. I'll be honest, I'll be highly tempted to vote NDP now in 2011 with Horwath at the helm. I love strong female politicians and she's definitely one.

I don't believe the sexist spin that Horwath is somehow unready for her new role; what new leader ever is. But she's got great potential. She's got spunk. She'll appeal to voters throughout southern Ontario, the rustbelt and Golden Horseshoe, from Windsor to Hamilton to Oshawa right through to downtown Toronto. She should make getting up to Northern Ontario on a regular basis a big priority as there is huge growth potential for the NDP up there. (I'm sure the Liberal back room types who fouled up the 2004 Hamilton East byelection - and they know who they are - by picking the wrong Liberal candidate and ensuring that Horwath would run and win big as the Dipper are really kicking themselves today. Now it's only going to get worse for the Grits. Remind me, why are you paid so well when you make so many mistakes?)

Am I a fairweather Liberal? Only if the leadership is truly uninspiring and Dalton McGuinty certainly fits that bill. McGuinty disgustingly sold out on my big issue - voting reform - and set up the 2007 referendum to lose. It was heartbreaking and I'm not prepared to forgive him for it. So much so that I wouldn't mind seeing him knocked out in the next election. I got a feeling that with Horwath shoring up the NDP vote across the province, plus the Tories undoubtedly getting their act together, will mean a very tight squeeze on Liberal fortunes, probably to a well-deserved minority. That would be interesting.

But I'm getting ahead of myself here. All in good time.


March 19 2009 - I've modified my thoughts on Andrea and Dalton somewhat.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

John Tory's departure shouldn't mean a move to the far right for Ontario's PCs...

I agree with most of the commentary out there about departing Ontario PC leader John Tory who lost a byelection Thursday in a safe, rural Tory seat near Peterborough: he's a decent, hard-working man with bad political judgment. I've always liked him and I was relieved when he won the Tory leadership because it meant an end to the hard-right, Ontario-destroying conservative tradition started by Mike Harris which gave birth to Walkerton, undermined public services, gave us poisoned meat and other unfortunate legacies. Sadly, Tory didn't seem up to the job of leader, despite his kind nature.

I agree with many that John Tory's greatest mistake was proposing a solution to Ontario's long-standing, unjust public education funding model. Since Confederation, Ontario has publicly funded both a large public system for all, and a separate system for Catholics. Now in the era of multiculturalism and the Charter of Rights, such special treatment for Catholics is archaic. Sadly, this injustice seems completely lost on premier Dalton McGuinty, who seems contented to tolerate anything that, if dealt with properly, might compromise his precarious political position (I still consider Dalton to be one of the luckiest politicians in Canada, he's hasn't gotten to where he is due to sheer talent and ability, believe me.)

John Tory recognized that only funding one religious system and not others (where numbers warrant) was wrong and was prepared to propose one of two solutions. Sadly, he chose the wrong solution: he wanted to expand public funding to other religions. The right solution, the one the people of Ontario actually want, would've been to shut down the Catholic system and merge it with the public. This is the riskier solution because it would cause massive political headaches for any premier to tackle.

Now new Tory leadership contenders are kicking the tires on possible leadership runs. It seems that the Ontario party is set to lurch back to the far right if John Capobianco's comments today are any indication: “There's a whole bunch of Mike Harris small-c conservatives – of which I'm one – who are going to say, ‘You know, we tried [the moderate approach of John Tory] now let's try with somebody else.'”

At a time when widespread deregulation led to the financial meltdown and subsequent collapse of the economy, not to mention the structural deficit left behind in 2003 after years of irresponsible Tory tax cuts in Ontario, and now you think we need more neo-conservatism? Boys, boys...will you never learn?

Friday, March 6, 2009

I see why they call him the "great Cleve Jones"

Here's a speech by gay rights activist Cleve Jones at the Eve of Justice candlelight march and rally in San Francisco on March 4, 2009, the evening before the court case to invalidate Proposition 8 began at the California Supreme Court. Thanks to Scott Dagostino for posting this speech on his Xtra.ca blog today. I thought it ought to be posted here as well.

Cleve Jones is the long-time activist and friend of Harvey Milk who has been an instrumental force in the fight for queer rights since the 1970s. He initiated the famous AIDS quilt. He greatly assisted Milk screenwriter Dustin Lance Black in lining up interviews with the various people who knew Harvey Milk well so he could write that great gay political rights movie.

Jones' words are inspiring and need to be heard. He's right: no oppressed group has ever achieved their rights without a great struggle and the fight for equality rights continues in the U.S. and elsewhere.

Plus, as Jones says, remember to boycott the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel in San Diego, whose owner Doug Manchester spent $125,000 to put Proposition 8 on the California ballot in the first place.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Popescu charged with promoting hate!

Wow! I just wrote about this issue this morning after being reminded of the case yesterday. And lo and behold, Sudbury Police have confirmed today that David Popescu has been charged under the country's hate laws.

So I guess 'sexual orientation' protections in the Criminal Code's hate propaganda laws aren't worthless, after all.

Although now I assume that Popescu will try to use the law's 'good faith" exclusions as a defence. We'll see how this unfolds.

Marriage equality fight heads back to California Supreme Court

Read about it here and here and here. The issue centers around whether Proposition 8, passed last November by 52% of California voters, is an unjust deprivation of equality rights in that state's constitution.

"What Proposition 8 accomplishes, if it were upheld by this court, is to establish the constitutional principle that a majority can take away a fundamental right from a group defined as a suspect class" that has already suffered a history of discrimination, said Shannon P. Minter, lead counsel for those petitioning the state's high court to invalidate Proposition 8.

Such a profound change should've been approved by the state's legislature before proceeding to a vote, equality supporters argue.

I am so with them on this issue, as regular readers know. Any legal means to stop unjust, legalized discrimination must be taken. The Supreme Court will rule later on the issue.

In the mean time, supporters of equality have launched a campaign against lawyer Ken Starr, who's leading the anti-gay fight in California's court. Starr has said the marriage ban should stand because of the state's role in protecting the welfare of children. The Human Rights Campaign has said of Starr's arguments: "The hypocrisy of "protecting" children by divorcing their parents is unconscionable. Yet this is just one in a parade of outrageous lies by right-wing extremists."

So they've launched the following petition. Click here to sign it.

Are 'sexual orientation' protections in Canada's hate propaganda laws worthless?

Question to Ontario Attorney General Chris Bentley: Why hasn't Sudbury's David Popescu been charged yet with promoting the "execution" of all homosexuals last October?

Is it because Popescu seems to be using the "good faith" exclusions that exist within the new anti-hate propaganda sections of the Criminal Code, passed in 2003?

As you may recall, perennial Sudbury independent candidate David Popescu ran again in the 2008 federal election and took part in an all-candidates debate in a high school where the subject of same sex marriage came up. In response, he reportedly told the group of students that gays should be "executed."

"I said I believe homosexuals should be executed . . . when I say homosexuals should be executed, I am speaking in terms of government actions. That is the way the Bible puts it," Popescu told Canwest in an interview.

Does the Bible say such things? Not according to gay filmmaker Daniel Karslake:

[What] most conservative Christians don't know - or conveniently forget to tell you - is that the Bible says absolutely nothing about homosexuality as we know and understand it today. In fact, the word homosexual didn't even appear in any Bible in any language until 1946! And whether you think Jesus was the Son of God, just another prophet, or even simply a myth, the story of Christ is all about embracing outcasts, not creating them."

Others have argued that the Old Testament is fairly clear: Leviticus, the ancient Jewish community rule book, not only condemns all forms of male homosexuality as an abomination, but calls for all those who commit it to be "put to death." (It doesn't say anything about killing lesbians.)

Of course, anything in the world could be justified using some passage from the Bible, from beating your wife to keeping slaves.

But is Popescu exempt from the Criminal Code's hate propaganda laws because he's expressing a religious opinion?

The Criminal Code indicates a person commits an offence by making statements that promote violence or incite hatred against identifiable groups. But the code also protects people from being convicted with a hate crime "if, in good faith, the person expressed or attempted to establish by an argument an opinion on a religious subject or an opinion based on a belief in a religious text..." Click here for info on Bill C-250 which brought these provisions into law.

Those complexities prompted Sudbury police to seek direction generally from the Attorney General before charging Popescu.

So what say you, Attorney General? Is the LGBT community protected against the promotion of its genocide? Can someone promote the mass murder of all homosexuals and then claim he's innocent of any crime because his opinion was simply the expression of his faith, as he's chosen to interpret the Bible?

If the statement was inspired by the Bible or other religious text, it's okay? So a non-religious person could be convicted under the Criminal Code if they spoke Popescu's words, but not Popescu because he claims to be quoting the Bible?

This "good faith" protection sets up a terrible precedent because it impacts on all forms of hate propaganda. If religious faith is lawful justification for promoting the genocide of an identifiable group, then clearly more groups need to be concerned.

If someone based on their religious beliefs broadcasts that all Jews should be killed, are they also exempt from prosecution under Canadian law?

Suddenly all hate mongers might have found a loophole in the Criminal Code's provisions that allows them to get away with hate propaganda: they can promote genocide if they're doing it for religious reasons?

If this isn't the case, I hope the Attorney General does the right thing...If Bentley claims the "good faith" provisions make a conviction unlikely and won't proceed, then that means the LGBT community basically has no protections against hate propaganda except those contained in various Human Rights Acts across the country...and we know what many critics want to do with those protections, now don't we?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Should we let the Tories pull this crap again?

Predictably, it's started again. It's funny how Stephen Harper's backbench hounds can be counted on to attack on cue, as they have been doing recently in the House of Commons.

But now the Harper-crites are getting creative again with new ads set to attack the character of Michael Ignatieff. Like they were with Stephane Dion, the Tories seem ready to misconstrue any utterance by Ignatieff and distort his life story in order to make themselves look better by comparison.

I say the smart people in Ignatieff's office should be working on similar ads that highlight every extremist thing that Harper has ever said and done. It won't be too hard as Harper was still saying the strangest things as late as 2005. (I'm really glad that Iggy's got Warren Kinsella on his team this time, as Kinsella is the master at this sort of thing.)

Either that, or the Grits could create a set of ads that depict Harper as a demonic bully, who failed to see the oncoming recession despite all the obvious signs, and even when it became apparent the public wanted politicians to work together to help the economy, all Harper could think to do is launch another hyper-partisan attack in last fall's economic statement. Harper is unfit for the highest office in the land.

My only question will be: Will the mainstream media swallow the anti-Iggy ads as new gospel, but reject such anti-Harper ads as recycled and ineffective? "We've heard all these attacks on Harper before, what's new?" people like Jane Taber will for sure ask (as she later opines a-la-Mike Duffy on how amazingly effective Tory messaging has become.) The mainstream media bought the message in those Tory attacks on Stephane Dion hook, line and sinker. Dion's mistake was not acting in a way that greatly contradicted the insinuations.

If the Tories plan to roll out these ads in the summer, the Liberals should bring this government down and force an election well before then and let the people decide who's the better leader for Canada, not the spinmeisters with the most money to spend pre-writ. Bring them down, bring them down, bring them down!

The banality of Michael Coren...

Ugh, what an arrogant prick Michael Coren truly is. He sees what he wants to see and it rarely has much to do with reality.

Coren mentions two supposed attacks on religion that took place during last weekend's Oscars in this satirical diatribe. I don't recall any attacks on religion last weekend, except perhaps the reference by Sean Penn during his speech to those hate mongers outside who brandished signs reading "Heath Ledger is in hell!"

I guess bigots who make signs like that are wonderful in Coren's books.

But check out this clip of his show opening last Monday on Youtube. Coren attacks Heath Ledger for accidentally overdosing on prescription drugs last year (Coren mistakenly comments that he died using illegal drugs) and mocks the Academy for paying tribute to Ledger's brilliant and disturbing work in The Dark Knight. In doing so, Coren only reveals his own banality.

He also mocks some nameless winner who thanked God even though he doesn't believe in him. Not sure who he meant, but Milk writer Dustin Lance Black thanked God for giving us Harvey Milk. Perhaps Coren meant to attack Black? Why not? Black is an openly gay man who was raised a Mormon who wrote a script about a gay political hero. So of course, in Coren's mind, he must be an evil atheist who deserves the kind of disrespect that Coren so frequently complains is directed towards him (and other religious bigots like him.)

For Michael Coren, there is only one God: his God. Everyone else's is fake, I guess.

Is this the same Jason Kenney?

Wow. It's hard to believe this is the same guy who just a few years ago opposed protecting Canadian gays from hate crimes and said homosexuals should simply marry members of the opposite sex.

Now Stephen Harper's Immigration Minister Jason Kenney is standing up for the rights of Iranian gays to escape violence and even death in their home country to come to Canada as refugees. I commend his position. It's amazing how government and leadership aspirations can change a politician, eh?

Considering Harper's recent talk about 'evil' Iran, is a new foreign affairs theme starting to emerge?